Industry experts are calling out for social media giants to do more to remove ‘how to’ videos that provide dangerous advice on how people can illegally cheat their energy meter.
We live in the age of the YouTube tutorial. These days you can find ‘how to’ videos on just about anything. These tutorials are great, at the very least they teach new skills, and oftentimes save you a few quid.
However, peppered among the usual DIY videos, you will find a plethora of videos claiming to teach people how to illegally cheat their energy meters.
Type ‘How to hack your energy meter’ into YouTube and you will be presented with over 94,700 results, many of which have already racked up millions of views.
Many of the most popular are those that state that the method in question is “legal” or, because it just slows down the meter (as opposed to stopping it altogether) that this renders it non-punishable or invisible to authorities. This is incredibly misleading, especially to UK viewers, where any form of meter cheating is illegal and can lead to five years in prison.
Despite it being a dangerous practice by default, meter cheating causes at least one death or injury every 10 days in the UK, yet no safety warnings are present on almost all the tutorials out there (not that a safety warning is going to save any lives).
As a result, industry experts are crying out for the social media giants to crack down on these videos and are calling for them to be removed altogether.
Just one incident of meter tampering can leave unsafe gas and electrical supplies, which can cause electric shocks, fires and even explosions. According to recent research, 39% of billpayers are completely unaware of the threat meter cheating poses to public safety.
This lack of awareness could mean these people are more easily influenced by the promise of cheaper energy fees, either tampering with meters themselves, or calling upon the paid services of “professional” meter thieves, who often target vulnerable families wanting to save some money.
Videos that not only endanger human life, target vulnerable families and put people at risk of prison time should be removed from the internet, or at the very least outline the dangers. With social media companies currently under intense scrutiny courtesy of the recent Momo craze, there is a severe lack of urgency.
Lloyd Birkhead, managing director of Grosvenor Services Group commented, “It’s shocking that such dangerous tutorials are allowed to exist on the world’s biggest social media platforms.”
“They pose a real danger to society. Methods employed in these videos should never be carried out by a skilled technician – let alone an untrained member of the public.
“The promise that an individual can “cut their electricity bill in half” is hugely enticing – particularly for those on low incomes or those looking to carry out illegal activity such as cannabis farming. However, the reality is incredibly serious and video streaming sites have a responsibility to crack down on the practice.
“Current statistics show that 150,000 cases of energy theft are investigated annually in the UK, but only around 1,500 people are charged. We must therefore come together to prevent and prosecute.
“Closer links between the government, social media companies, energy suppliers and police could improve these figures. We need to show energy thieves how seriously their actions can impact innocent lives, as well as the tough sanctions they will face when prosecuted.”